Books I am reading

Friday, September 4, 2015

Martha and the quilters

     Gone But Knot Forgotten is the third in a cozy mystery series. I have not yet read the first two volumes, but I will. I am usually cautious with cozies; while I appreciate the less violent approach to mysteries, I find that too many cozies are formulaic and the characters are pretty flat. Neither of those are issues with Martha and her adventures.
     Martha and her friends, Lucy and Birdie, are long-time friends who spend Tuesday mornings quilting together. While very diverse women, their quilting draws them together. Martha, a middle-aged Jewish woman, has been made the executor of the will of a former high school friend. As she learns more about the circumstances of her friend's life and death, she becomes embroiled in trying to figure out who killed her friend. Lucy and Birdie become involved in the mystery, to their detriment and Lucy's husband's anger.
     Add in a Jewish biker friend for Martha, missing jewelry, antiques and art work, an old mystery of her friend's missing husband and his greedy siblings, and you have a boiling pot of intrigue. There is humor, spirituality, fear of relationships, and much more as Martha and her friends try to unravel what happened to Harriet. I give this book 4 stars out of five. And I will be reading the first two books in the series.

Episode 4 in the Blanche White Series

     Blanche is a middle-aged, black woman with strong opinions, a generous heart and a drive to find the truth. She reveals to us the pain and fear of living black in America. Barbara Neely has created an intelligent, complex main character in this series, and interesting secondary characters to populate her world.
     In Blanche Passes Go, issues of abuse, white supremacy, and class stereotypes are explored and turned on their ear. Blanche returns to her hometown of Farleigh, NC for the summer. She comes to help her best friend, Adele, with her new catering business, and, to feel out the possibility of returning to Farleigh permanently after her children go off to college. She doesn't expect to be confronting the fear and pain of a rape she experienced 10 years earlier, let alone the gold-digging fiance' of a former client, a murder, the neighbor children escaping the abuse of the father toward their mother, and the possibility of romance.
     I love this series, and I cheer for Blanche as she walks through the pain of her past in order to set herself free, and works tirelessly to bring justice for her former client and appropriate karma to her former rapist. I am saddened that most of the whites in Blanche's world are bigoted, self-serving scum. Blanche would never give me a second look as a possible friend, and, that saddens me. But having lived in an integrated neighborhood in Philadelphia for 18 years, I also understand the deep pain and injustice that leads minorities to protect themselves from constant abuse.
    While the Blanche White series is certainly in the "mystery" category, it is so much more. It is literature that explores the deep issues and experiences of blacks in America, of women in male dominates society, and in dignity and respect for poor, hard-working people. Each book can stand alone, but there is a richness in reading the books in order as Blanche grows and develops as a person. I give this book 5 stars. If you are a sensitive person, keep the Kleenex nearby.